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Prosecutor details horrors in opening statement in Shawn Grate trial; defense declines

Posted at 3:13 PM, Apr 23, 2018
and last updated 2019-06-04 14:10:34-04

ASHLAND, Ohio - It has been an emotional scene in Ashland today, where the prosecutor's opening statement described the vicious manner in which multiple women were alleged to have died by the hand of accused serial killer Shawn Grate.


Previous coverage:

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Prosecutor's opening statement

With the courtroom silent, prosecutor Chris Tunnell started the trial by saying, "This isn't a who done it case. This is a he done it case." He recalled the details: On Sept. 13, 2016, a woman called 911 saying she had been abducted. She was able to free herself from being tied up to a bed while Grate was asleep naked.

Grate was living in a two-story abandoned home on an isolated street, the same house where Grate allegedly raped and killed two other women. When police arrived at the house on Covert Court, they noticed what the prosecutor said was “a smell that was unmistakable” as they walked through a home filled with trash. The smell would later point them in the direction of two decomposed bodies.

When evidence technicians arrived at the home where Grate allegedly committed these heinous crimes, they found a pile of clothes and stuffed animals in a room that nearly reached the ceiling. While examining the room and its furnishings, BCI found restraints on the bed and a pole propped up against the wall with a sock and a layer of condoms wrapped around it.

A swarm of fly larva surrounded a pile of clothes. Underneath the clothes, was a closet door taped shut. When they opened the door, another pile was discovered. Underneath the pile of clothes, the body of Elizabeth Griffith was found.

Her decomposed body was naked, with her hands bound and ankles restrained. One restraint was attached to her neck to prevent her from moving, the prosecutor said.

The body of the second victim, Stacey Stanley, was found covered in a pile of clothes in the basement.


The prosecutor went on to list a number of other horrific details. 


The prosecutor said Grate videotaped the rape of Stanley, as well as the woman who managed to escape after being raped repeatedly over the course of three days in September 2016.

Grate admitted to police that he kidnapped, raped and killed Griffith and Stanley. The prosecutor said Grate demonstrated on video with police how he strangled the two women.

“You’ll see the grin as he demonstrates the killing,” the prosecutor told the jury.

After the opening statements, the chilling 911 call of the woman who escaped pleading for help was played in the courtroom.

Defense's opening statement
The defense waived its opening statement.


Where to watch

News 5 Cleveland plans to live-stream portions of what is expected to be a month-long trial. For notifications, download our app or follow us on Facebook.